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Halep beats injured Pliskova in Rome


Simona Halep returns a ball at the Italian Open
Simona Halep has won her first Rome title after losing the 2017 and 2018 finals

Top seed Simona Halep warmed up for next week’s French Open by winning her first Italian Open title after opponent Karolina Pliskova retired injured.

Romania’s Halep led 6-0 2-1 against the Czech second seed, whose movement seemed to be hampered from the start.

After a 20-minute first set, Pliskova had treatment but could not continue.

Halep, who won the French Open title in 2018, has won 14 matches in a row either side of the enforced break because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The rearranged French Open starts at Roland Garros in Paris on Sunday.

Halep will be the top seed at the Grand Slam event in the absence of defending champion Ashleigh Barty, who does not want to travel from Australia because of coronavirus.

On the evidence of her recent form the reigning Wimbledon champion will be highly fancied to win a third Grand Slam.

Halep’s victory in the prestigious Italian Open meant she has won a 22nd WTA title and a ninth on a clay court.

However, the Rome final did not provide the test which she would have anticipated.

“It’s not the way we want to finish a tournament, in the final, you played great this week,” Halep told Pliskova afterwards.

“I wish you a fast recovery and wish you good luck at the French Open, maybe we will meet again there in the final.”

It quickly became apparent the big-hitting Pliskova was struggling to push off on her left side and had heavy strapping, unable to land one winner in the opening set and claiming just nine points.

Defending champion Pliskova called for the physio before the start of the second set and had treatment on her lower back.

She did get on the board when she broke Halep’s serve for 1-1 in the second set, but continued to look uncomfortable and decided she could not carry on after falling 2-1 behind.

“It is disappointing not to finish today but Simona was too strong. I have to be ready 100% to play a good match against her,” Pliskova said.

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